Before purchasing a Sam, please read this article that has been adapted from: DON'T BUY A BOUVIER! by Pam Green (c.1992)
(This article, written many years ago, has become a notorious classic in Bouvier circles. It has been reprinted many times by clubs to use for the education of prospective Bouvier owners. She gives her permission freely to all who wish to reprint and distribute it in hopes of saving innocent dogs from neglect and abandonment by those who should never have acquired them in the first place.)
Interested in buying a Sam? You must be or you wouldn't be reading this. You've already heard how marvelous Sammies are. Well, I think you should also hear, before it's too late, that SAMOYEDS ARE NOT THE PERFECT BREED FOR EVERYONE. As a breed, they have a few characteristics that some people find charming, but that some people find mildly unpleasant, and some people find downright intolerable. There are different breeds for different needs. There are over 200 breeds of dogs in the world. Maybe you'd be better off with some other breed. Maybe you'd be better off with a cat. Maybe you'd be better off with goldfish, a parakeet, a hamster, or some house-plants.
DON'T BUY A SAMOYED IF YOU ARE ATTRACTED TO THE BREED "CHIEFLY" BY ITS APPEARANCE.
The appearance of the Samoyeds you have seen in the show ring is the product of many hours of bathing and grooming. This carefully constructed beauty is fleeting: a few minutes of freedom, romping through the fields or strolling in the rain restores the natural look. The natural look of the Sammy is that of a large, shaggy farm dog, usually with some dirt and weeds clinging to his tousled coat. The true beauty of the Sam lies in his character, not in his appearance. Some of the long-coated and most of the short-coated breeds' appearances are less dependent on grooming than is that of the Samoyed. (See also the section on grooming below.)
DON'T BUY A SAM IF YOU ARE UNWILLING TO SHARE YOUR HOUSE AND YOUR LIFE WITH YOUR DOG.
Sams were bred to share in the work of the family (hunting, herding, pulling sleds, etc.) and to spend most of their waking hours working with the family. They thrive on companionship and they want to be wherever you are. They are happiest living with you in your house and going with you when you go out. While they usually tolerate being left at home by themselves (preferably with a dog-door giving access to the fenced yard), they should not be relegated to the backyard or kennel. A puppy exiled from the house is likely to grow up to be unsociable, unruly, and unhappy. He may well develop pastimes, such as digging or barking, that will displease you and/or your neighbors. An adult so exiled will be miserable too. If you don't strongly prefer to have your dog's companionship as much as possible, enjoying having him sleep in your bedroom at night and sharing many of your activities by day, you should choose a breed less oriented to human companionship. Likewise if your job or other obligations prevent you from spending much time with your dog. No dog is really happy without companionship, but the pack hounds for example, are more tolerant of being kenneled or yarded so long as it is in groups of 2 or more. A better choice would be a cat, as they are solitary by nature.
DON'T BUY A SAMOYED IF YOU DON'T INTEND TO EDUCATE (TRAIN) YOUR DOG.
Basic obedience and household rules training is NOT optional for the Sam. As an absolute minimum, you must teach him to reliably respond to commands to come, to lie down, to stay, and to walk at your side, on or off leash and regardless of temptations. You must also teach him to respect your household rules: e.g. is he allowed to get on the furniture? is he allowed to beg at the table? What you allow or forbid is unimportant, but it is *critical* that you, not the dog, make these choices and that you enforce your rules consistently. You must commit yourself to attending an 8 to 10 week series of weekly lessons at a local obedience club or with a professional trainer, and to doing one or two short (5 to 20 minutes) homework sessions per day. As commands are learned, they must be integrated into your daily life by being used whenever appropriate, and enforced consistently. Young Sammy puppies are relatively easy to train: they are eager to please, intelligent, and calm-natured, with a relatively good attention span. Once a Sam has learned something, he tends to retain it well. Your cute, sweet little Sam puppy will grow up to be a large, powerful dog. If he has grown up respecting you and your rules, then all his physical and mental strength will work for you. But if he has grown up without rules and guidance from you, surely he will make his own rules, and his physical and mental powers will often act in opposition to your needs and desires. For example: he may tow you down the street as if competing in a sled-dog race; he may grab food off the table; he may forbid your guests entry to "his" home. This training cannot be delegated to someone else, e.g. by sending the dog away to "boarding school," because the relationship of respect and obedience is personal between the dog and the individual who does the training. While you definitely many want the help of an experienced trainer to teach you how to train your dog, you yourself must actually train your Sam. As each lesson is well learned, then the rest of the household (except young children) must also work with the dog, insisting he obey them as well. Many of the Sams that are rescued from Pounds and Shelters show clearly that they have received little or no basic training, neither in obedience nor in household deportment; yet these same dogs respond well to such training by the rescuer or the adopter. It seems likely that a failure to train the dog is a significant cause of Sam abandonment. If you don't intend to educate your dog, preferably during puppyhood, you would be better off with a breed that is both small and socially submissive.
DON'T BUY A SAMOYED IF YOU LACK LEADERSHIP (SELF-ASSERTIVE) PERSONALITY.
Dogs do not believe in social equality. They live in a social hierarchy led by a pack-leader (Alpha). The alpha dog is generally benevolent, affectionate, and non-bullying towards his subordinates; but there is never any doubt in his mind or in theirs that the alpha is the boss and makes the rules. Whatever the breed, if you do not assume the leadership, the dog will do so sooner or later and with more or less unpleasant consequences for the abdicating owner. Like the untrained dog, the pack-leader dog makes his own rules and enforces them against other members of the household by means of a dominant physical posture and a hard-eyed stare, followed by a snarl, then a knockdown blow or a bite. Breeds differ in tendencies towards social dominance; and individuals within a breed differ considerably. You do not have to have the personality or mannerisms of a Marine boot camp Sergeant, but you do have to have the calm, quiet self-assurance and self-assertion of the successful parent ("Because I'm your mother, that's why.") or successful grade-school teacher. If you think you might have difficulty asserting yourself calmly and confidently to exercise leadership, then choose a breed known for its socially subordinate disposition, such as a Golden Retriever or a Shetland Sheepdog, AND be sure to ask the breeder to select one of the more submissive pups in the litter for you. If the whole idea of "being the boss" frightens or repels you, don't get a dog at all. Cats don't expect leadership. A gerbil or hamster, or fish doesn't need leadership or household rules. Leadership and training are inextricably intertwined: leadership personality enables you to train your dog, and being trained by you reinforces your dog's perception of you as the alpha.
DON'T BUY A SAMOYED IF YOU DON'T VALUE LAID-BACK COMPANIONSHIP AND CALM AFFECTION.
A Sam becomes deeply attached and devoted to his own family, but he doesn't "wear his heart on his sleeve." Some are noticeably reserved, others are more outgoing, but few adults are usually exuberantly demonstrative of their affections. They like to be near you, usually in the same room, preferably on a comfortable pad or cushion in a corner or under a table, just "keeping you company." They enjoy conversation, petting and cuddling when you offer it, but they are moderate and not overbearing in coming to you to demand much attention. They are emotionally sensitive to their favorite people: when you are joyful, proud, angry, or grief-stricken, your Sam will immediately perceive it and will believe himself to be the cause. The relationship can be one of great mellows, depth and subtlety; it is a relation on an adult-to-adult level, although certainly not one devoid of playfulness. As puppies, of course, they will be more dependent, more playful, and more demonstrative. In summary, Newfs tend to be sober and thoughtful, rather than giddy clowns or sychophants.
DON'T BUY A SAMMY IF YOU ARE FASTIDIOUS ABOUT YOUR HOME.
The Samoyed's thick shaggy double coat and his love of digging in water and mud combine to make him a highly efficient transporter of dirt into your home, depositing same on your floors and rugs and possibly also on your furniture and clothes. One Sam coming in from a few minutes outdoors on a rainy day can turn an immaculate house into an instant hog wallow. His full chest soaks up water every time he takes a drink, then releases same drippingly across your floor or soppingly into your lap. Samoyeds are seasonal shedders, and in spring can easily fill a trash bag with balls of hair from a grooming session, or clog a vacuum cleaner if left to shed in the house. I don't mean to imply that you must be a slob or slattern to live happily with a Sam, but you do have to have the attitude that your dog's company means more to you than does neatness, and you do have to be comfortable with a less than immaculate house. While all dogs, like all children, create a greater or lesser degree of household mess, almost all other breeds of dog are less troublesome than the Sammy in this respect. The Basenji is perhaps the cleanest, due to its cat-like habits; but cats are cleaner yet, and goldfish hardly ever mess up the house.
DON'T BUY A SAMOYED IF YOU FIND BARKING TOTALLY REPELLANT
Most Sam owners begin with some degree of distaste for barking, but as this is an integral part of the Sam, this dislike usually progresses to some level of nonchalance - or get their companion debarked by a veterinarian practised in the procedure.
DON'T BUY A SAMOYED IF YOU DISLIKE DOING REGULAR GROOMING.
The thick, pristine white double coat demands regular grooming, not merely to look tolerably nice, but also to preserve the health of skin underneath and to detect and remove foxtails, ticks, and other dangerous invaders. For "pet" grooming, you should expect to spend 10-15 minutes a day (e.g. while listening to music or watching television) on alternate days or half an hour twice a week. Of course any time your Sam gets into cockleburs, filigree, or other coat-adhering vegetation, you are likely to be in for an hour or more of remedial work. During oxtail season, (western US), you must inspect feet and other vulnerable areas daily. In Lyme disease areas during tick season, you will need to inspect for ticks daily. "Pet" grooming does not require a great deal of skill, but does require time and regularity. "Show" grooming requires a great deal of skill and considerably more time and effort or expensive professional grooming. Almost every Sammy that is rescued out of a Pound or Shelter shows the effects of many months of no grooming, resulting in massive matting and horrendous filthiness, sometimes with urine and feces cemented into the rear portions of the coat. It appears that unwillingness to keep up with coat care is a primary cause of abandonment. Many other breeds of dog require less grooming; short coated breeds require very little.